The Autos are an annual celebration of just some of the people who help make Cox Automotive a great place to work. The morning after last year’s event, Manheim Auction Services (MAS) National Operations Director David Parnham bumped into US colleague Ryan Carson who’d been a guest at the previous night’s ceremony in St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent.

It was not long after 7am and David exchanged pleasantries with Ryan, who’s now VP Finance COE at Cox Automotive Inc. before apologising as he had a customer appointment in Birmingham to attend that morning.

“That’s why you won the President’s Award”, Ryan told him. “The Autos finished late into the night, and you are in your uniform ready to go meet a customer.”

David’s in charge of operations for nine Manheim auction sites, with responsibility for the smooth running of the locations, as well as for the performance of their area managers and auctioneers, among many other responsibilities.

At the ceremony, Cox Automotive International’s President, Martin Forbes described the President’s Award winner as someone who “has dedicated decades of their career to our business and has become a highly respected and admired individual, thanks to their people-first approach, friendly demeanour and professional track record. No ask is too big and they frequently go above and beyond to help anyone who asks for it.”

David Parnham with Martin Forbes after winning the President's Award

Fire in the belly

Bradford-born father-of-two David, an approachable and straight-talking Yorkshireman, was more surprised than anyone in the room that night to discover Martin was talking about him. Especially as he turned up to the ceremony half an hour late.

He said: “I had been at our Northampton site with a customer. I got to the ceremony and when Martin started talking I thought “These words could describe so many people in Cox Automotive. I was very humbled and grateful to receive the award. It gives you that extra fire in your belly, especially as it’s such a coveted prize at The Autos.”

David has worked in the automotive industry since he was 15 years old. He was drawn to auctioneering as his older brother Sean was one. But he started his working life washing cars, before learning about every aspect of the business and working his way up. By his admission, he’s done almost every job there is at an auction centre, he’s worked outside in operations, has done admin, service delivery and much more besides.

“I wanted to be an auctioneer like my brother, or a pilot,” he jokes. “I think the investment I put into the business has been repaid many times over by the business investing in me. They’ve always backed me and supported me.

“I’ve got great relationships with the European Leadership Team, with the newer members who’ve come on board, such as Stuart Perham, and with those who’ve been there a long time such as Craig Mailey.”

But what does he enjoy most about his role?

“It’s the variety and the opportunity to help team members to succeed every day, whether they work with me or in other areas of the business. It’s one of my most important roles here. Bound up with that success is making sure that others can come in and do the relevant role well when someone moves on, whether that’s to elsewhere in the business, or sometimes, to another company. Succession is a key part of it.

“I’ve been an Assistant Manager, a General Manager, an Area General Manager, Regional Director and now National Operations Director. Every step up has improved me. But it’s also meant that there’s an opportunity for someone else to progress.”

Always aim higher

David, a former football coach and devoted Liverpool FC fan, is also a keen traveller and a handy golfer too. He has been with the business through ups and downs but says he wouldn’t change a thing. He also has firm ideas on how everyone working at Cox Automotive can “make their mark”.

“I recently gave a presentation to the board saying 2023 had been an exceptional year for the MAS team. My final slide said, simply, “Made their mark”. For me this idea, which underpins everything we do, is about making sure when you come into work you’re asking yourself “Is there anything I can do to better myself, better my team or improve the environment around you?” He feels everyone at Cox Automotive has the potential to play a part in delivering its business strategy, whether a cleaner, inspector, manager or someone else.

“If we all do what’s expected of us and try to do that to an even higher level then we will continue to succeed as a business, for our people, our customers and from an overall performance perspective.”

He insists people are the backbone of the business and working for Cox Automotive allows team members to make their mark and drive their career aspirations. And. like his succession, if team members commit to their development, Cox will fully support their career journey as it did in David’s case.

“That gives everyone the chance to make their mark,” David said. “And that, in turn, helps make Cox Automotive a stronger business for the future.”